Husband wanted after shooting of Swiss ski star

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The Independent Online

Police last night issued an arrest warrant for the estranged husband of a former Swiss ski champion after she was found shot dead at her family's chalet in the mountain resort of Les Crosets.

Corinne Rey-Bellet, 33, and her brother Alain were fatally wounded in the attack on Sunday evening but their mother, who sustained serious injuries, managed to raise the alarm. Doctors said she was too ill to be questioned.

But the investigating magistrate, Philippe Medico, said witnesses had reported seeing Rey-Bellet's former husband Gerold Stadler, a banker, leaving the building with a gun in his hand. The pair separated last month.

"He fled in a car, carrying a pistol,"Mr Medico said, adding that the car had since been found in the neighbouring canton of Vaud.

Philippe Es-Borrat, a cousin of the slain skier, said he had spent the night consoling family members and called the deaths a "nightmare". Rey-Bellet's two-year-old son, who was unhurt in the shooting, is now in secure accommodation.

Corinne Rey-Bellet was considered one of the world's best skiers until a knee injury forced her to retire three years ago. In a career spanning almost 15 years she achieved 15 World Cup podium finishes and claimed five gold medals in downhill and Super-G slalom events, including a historic double in 1999 when she won both events on the same day in the Austrian resort of St Anton.

Despite competing in four winter games, Olympic medals eluded the skier. "To finish fifth is heartbreaking," she said after the women's downhill at the Salt Lake City winter games in 2002. But she left the sport on a high in 2003 with a career-best second place in the downhill at the World Championships in St Moritz.

Following the birth of her son Kevin in November 2003, Rey-Bellet was retraining to become a physiotherapist.

Members of the Swiss ski team spoke of their shock. "It's just horrific," said Rey-Bellet's former team colleague, Sylviane Berthod. "At first I couldn't believe it. I just cannot imagine what could have happened."

Fans left hundreds of messages of condolence on Rey-Bellet's website. "We're shaken by the tragedy. We send our condolences to the family members and express our deep sorrow," the site's administrators said.

Rey-Bellet and Gerold Stadler met through their involvement with a programme to support retired athletes, run by Credit Suisse. The couple married in 2002 and when Rey-Bellet retired a year later, she told the bank's online magazine she was looking forward to life off the race circuit. "I'm now throwing all my energy into my private life... I'm looking forward to it," she said. "My husband Gerold and I have built a house in Abtwil, and it would be a real pity if it was always standing there empty, especially as I love cooking - and I've already furnished a children's room."